The Supreme Court on Monday noted that the Central Bureau of Investigation(CBI), which had filed an FIR against former Kerala police officers allegedly responsible for framing erstwhile ISRO scientist and Padma Bhushan awardee Dr Nambi Narayanan in a fake espionage case in 1994, must proceed against the accused as per law.
The court, however, added that the CBI must gather evidence and not solely rely on the findings of the reports by the Justice Jain Committee, the three-member panel set up after it acquitted Dr Narayanan in 2018. The court said the report was only meant as an “initial basis” for it to understand the case and warned the central agency to not let its probe be influenced by the committee report.
A two-member bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna said, “CBI can proceed after registration of FIR in accordance with the law. The respondent can take all possible remedies available in law… further, after registration of FIR, CBI must collect material on its own and not proceed on basis of the report submitted by Jain committee.”
The court also noted that while the Justice Jain Committee report need not be made public, the FIR registered by the CBI ought to be uploaded on its website. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta assured on behalf of the central agency to publish the FIR in the course of the day. The court asked if any of the parties had further grievance in the case, they could approach the Supreme Court.
Kerala HC grants bail to ex-cops accused in the fake ISRO espionage case
It is also worth mentioning that the Kerala High Court today granted interim relief to ex-cops in the ISRO espionage case. The former Kerala police officers, S Vijayan and Thampi S Durga Dutt, the first and second accused respectively in the case relating to hatching a conspiracy to frame former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan and others in the ISRO espionage case were granted anticipatory bail for two weeks by the Kerala High Court on Monday.
Earlier this month, the CBI submitted in the Kerala High Court that the false implication of former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan impacted the technological development of cryogenic technology in the country’s space research.
The central agency appeared before the Kerala High Court to oppose the bail pleas of two former Kerala Police officers, who were involved in the arrest of former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan in a 1994 espionage case. Opposing the bail, the CBI said that these two officers falsely implicated Nambi Narayanan in a “concocted case” that led to a delay in the development of India’s cryogenic technology.
Nambi Narayanan – the victim of politico-bureacracy nexus
It is pertinent to note that scientist Nambi Narayan was a victim of persecution by the Congress party. The political rivalry between the two factions of the Kerala Congress party led to the arrest of Narayanan, along with two other scientists D Sasikumaran and K Chandrasekhar, in November 1994. The Kerala police had levelled espionage charges under sections 3,4 and 5 of the Official Secrets Act against the scientists.
However, the CBI, in its probe, found that the allegations against him were false. In 1998, the Supreme Court upheld the findings by the CBI and had asked the Kerala government to pay Rs 1 lakh in compensation to Narayanan and others. However, Dr Narayanan had approached the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)seeking justice for the harassment and agony meted out to him. In 2001, the NHRC had awarded a compensation of Rs 10 lakhs to him.
While absolving Narayanan of any wrongdoing, the CBI had said that Siby Mathews had left “the entire investigation to IB surrendering his duties” and ordered the indiscriminate arrest of the scientist and others without adequate evidence”.
In 2018, the Supreme Court had ordered a high-level probe to investigate the role of erring police officials in the espionage case relating to Nambi Narayanan. In April this year, the court had directed the CBI to take over the probe and conduct further investigation in the case.
The three-member committee, headed by former top court judge Justice (retd) DK Jain, was appointed by the top court in 2018 after acquitting Narayanan in the case. In addition, the apex court had also ordered the Kerala government to pay Rs.50 lakh as compensation for compelling Nambi Narayanan to undergo “immense humiliation”.
In 2019, the Union government led by Narendra Modi finally awarded the prestigious Padma Bhushan to Nambi Narayanan on the occasion of the 70th Republic Day. Later in December 2019, the Kerala government approved to provide compensation of Rs 1.3 crore to former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan for his wrongful arrest and harassment by the Kerala Police in the 1994 spying case.